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Running, a Few Days Later

The last post was me whining and moaning about being sluggish in runs lately, wondering if old age had got to me, or if it was because of the endless, endless Gainesville summer.  Or other.  (Like, plateaus happen.)

Then there was yesterday morning.  I’m making coffee in the kitchen about 6:30, Pam’s walking the dog and getting the newspaper.  She comes in and says, “You won’t believe what it feels like outside.”  So I go outside, and she’s right — it’s maybe 60 degrees and dry — quite a relief after 5 1\2 months of 70-plus degree mornings with high humidity.

The cool weather must have inspired me, so yesterday’s run of was 6-plus miles (and another mile of fast walking, about a 13-minute pace, with Pam).  Then some cycling on my not-entirely-dead legs (8 miles).  And then 5 miles running today on another cool morning.

I’m figuring that it was the weather that accounted for my month or so of sluggishness and struggle with running.  Everything’s fine now; sorry about the whining.


Running Today (aka Trash Miles)

Went running this a.m., on a perfectly good day (temperature near 70, pretty high humidity), and as has been happening more and more lately, every step was a struggle.

Got in 4 miles, but I felt like stopping after the first 50 yards and just about every step after that. Was thinking that these are just trash miles I’m doing, but so what, Trash Miles R-US, and then…. And then…I thought, maybe I need to take Thursday off completely from running; maybe if I do that my runs on Friday and Saturday will be better — could add a little speed training, even (whereas today all I could do was slog, slog, slog).

So I’ve entered “Day Off From Running” in my log for next Thursday, calculated how much monthly\yearly mileage I might lose from taking Thursdays off, and wondered if I can still get 1,000 miles a year in.   And just now thought, so what if I didn’t get in 1,000 miles a year?  It’s not like the world will stop spinning on its axis.

Seems worth a try. Not getting any younger. (Or maybe it’s just the end of a long, long, long Gainesville summer that’s got me tired — when those cool, crisp days of Fall and Winter come, maybe all will be well.)


The Apple Store Brigade

On Sunday, September 16 (yesterday), we made a side trip to the Apple store in Jacksonville on our way home to Gainesville from St. Augustine (there’s no Apple store in Gainesville).  Pam’s iPhone wouldn’t shut off and also had a battery problem, needing to be charged all the time.

The Apple store in Town Square is amazingly crowded —

Apple store, Town Center

a regular-sized store, 27 associates, even more customers.  So we made an appointment for an hour and a half later , filled the time with some shopping.  Came back, and Pam was helped almost immediately.  (Good thing we made an appointment — the hotdog vendor outside said, “You’ll be there all day.  It’s the busiest store in Town Square.  If there was a tornado, the Apple store would still be full.”)

I asked the hotdog vendor if she knew any new hotdog stand jokes, since I only know the one about the Buddhist monk.  She said no, she’d didn’t even know the Buddhist monk one.

Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog stand and says, “Make me one with everything.”

When he gets his hotdog, he hands the vendor a $10 bill.  Waits, waits — then says, “Don’t I get any change?”  The vendor tells him, “Real change comes from within.”

(The vendor yesterday was a young woman, seemed to like the joke, maybe just being polite.)

Apple store bottom line — Pam’s iPhone couldn’t be fixed, so they gave her a new one.  Problem developed, the tech theorised, when she dropped it without a case on it, a carbon-based error of course, not a problem with the phone (which would be a silicon-based error, I suppose).

So, new phone, not too long a wait, good tech advice — go Apple!  (Much better than the AT&T store where we bought the phones — their solution to every problem is, “You’ll have to take it to the Apple store.”  And ATT&T thoroughly screws up our bill every month and seemingly can’t be straightened out.   My take on ATT&T — be afraid, be very afraid.)


St. Augustine

We just got back from a quick trip to St. Augustine — on Saturday about 1:00, I said to Pam, “Let’s go on a little trip,”  and she said she’d been thinking we should go for a drive.  We thought about Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville, and decided on St. Augustine, mostly because it’s closest of the three (not by terribly much, but closest) and a fun place to be.

We stayed at Marion Motor Lodge, a small, somewhat tatty but really just fine place right on Avenida Menendez, which is on the river — in fact, Marion Motor Lodge is right across from the marina and 100 yards south of Bridge of the Lions.  We had an upstairs picture-window view of river, marina, and bridge as well as a large outdoor deck.

First we went exploring.

St. Augustine Skyline, including Flagler College

Down King St., where there are shops (and all sorts of tourists, including what looked like a wedding party heading to a reception).  Then to St. George St., the center of Downtown St. Augustine, a walking street with no auto traffic, many shops, and lotsa people.  Went to our favorite shoe store, didn’t get anything. (I already own three pairs of Merrell shoes, so any more seemed unnecessary, though I love my Trail Frees and would like another pair sometime, but not yesterday.)

Then dinner at O.C. White’s 2 doors down from the hotel.  Our hotel clerk recommended it highly (along with the Columbia Restaurant, basically Spanish food ). O.C. Whites’s is steak and seafood.  We had an excellent salad with nuts and raisins, Mandarin oranges, and all sorts of other good stuff; also Abaco shrimp, which in addition to the shrimp has pasta, artichokes, and mushrooms in a light cream sauce.

Here’s a picture of us eating on

O. C. White’s, St. Augustine, upstairs balcony

the upstairs balcony, enjoying the river and bridge view as well as live music in the courttyard.

Then another walk around town and home to bed.  The next morning (this morning) we read the Sunday paper outside on the deck while watching the sunrise.  Then breakfast at La Herencia, a little Cuban coffee shop and restaurant we had walked by on the night before and noted as a possibility.   Great choice!  Can’t wait to go back and have breakfast there again.  Watched the street traffic, not so much ’cause it was early (before 9:00).  The gift shop across the street was opening up, watering plants, putting up their flags, and our server interpreted the sign in the window about a re-creation of the oldest jail — their plan is to knock down a wall or two because the gift shop actually IS the site of the oldest jail, and they plan to re-create it.  Should be next year, we’re told.

Another reason to come back.  Maybe we’ll run the always-fun Matanzas 5k when it comes up in January or February — the race course goes right through Downtown and is partially on the river, too.

More later about our side trip to Jacksonville and the Apple store on the way home.


Prairie Creek

There’s water in Prairie Creek.   Last time I tried to paddle it was probably in 1996 or ’97, and it was pretty much un-navigable back then and has remained so since.  But today at breakfast Rick said that he’d been over the Highway 20 bridge and there was water in Prairie Creek.   (Well, Tropical Storm Debbie, Hurricane Isaac, and some regular afternoon rains have swelled local bodies of water — it’s raining outside my window right now.) Rick and Richard couldn’t go (Rick had a work conflict, Richard thought he needed to work), but I had boats on the roof and volunteered to  check it out.

First thing is to go to Kate’s Fish Camp for their “boat ramp,” such as it is.  Kate’s is a longstanding local landmark, a rusted-vehicles–and-refrigerators-all-over-the-yard example of The Real Florida.  When I was in grad school, all visiting writers or poets who came to read their work were feted at Kate’s afterward, where we all went out for a few beers (and The Real Florida).  Kate’s today is even more dreary and busted-up than it was 25 years ago (as I am, as many of us are).  Cost me $5 to use the “boat ramp,” which was probably too much for what I got — but if part of the $5 was a contribution to the preservation of The Real Florida, it was a bargain.

Prairie Creek, Paynes Prairie, Gainesville, FL

So, Newnan’s Lake is upstream a few hundred yards and is beautiful.  Saw more birds than you could imagine (well, who knows what YOU could imagine, but the bird numbers surprised me).  Herons, al– no anhingas or eagles, at least on that part of the water.  Then back downstream, under the Highway 20 bridge, under the much-lower Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail bike bridge, and I was in twisting, turning Prairie Creek proper.

A little spooky being out there alone, once I paddled past the road and bike path and into the deep woods, so I didn’t go far.  Maybe Sam and I will go out there Monday or Tuesday, or Rick, Richard, and I next Friday.

If we’re ambitious, we’ll paddle all the way downstream to the dam, assuming that the creek remains navigable.   Doesn’t look like much water in the picture to the left, does it?  (Found the picture online, didn’t take it myself today — will take a fresh pic next time.)


Settling Into A Routine

Been settling into a routine, now, after 3-plus weeks of retirement.  Have the meetings of my service fellowship on an almost-daily basis, do my morning training (almost 6 miles running this morning, set to go cycle 6-7 miles when I’m done posting here).  And I meet up with friends on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday mornings for breakfast or coffee.

Now I’m looking for a further service opportunity.  Thought to go back to St. Francis House, but the current cook told me (somewhat superciliously) that they don’t ever need help with cooking or serving, though she might need some help cleaning up after.  Maybe, maybe not– driving all the way over there to wash dishes and mop floors doesn’t seem all that rewarding.

Anyway, the training and (I hope) the racing marches on.  I’m signed up for a 15k on December 8th, to be held at the Gainesville\  Hawthorne Trail, a fun, scenic race site.  (There is a completely unnecessary hill coming into the finish line, but nothing to be done about that, other than a bit more hill training.)  There’s the annual Tom Walker Half-Marathon, also on the GHT, in November, but a half-a-thon may be a bit much for me.

Nocatee Duathlon, November 2011

And I continue to look for triathlons or duathlons in the area to which I might commit.     Triathlons are my favorite, but a duathlon like this one to the left in Nocatee is also tempting — Nocatee is a little planned community not too far from Jacksonville, and their initial duathlon was last year:  run 2 miles, cycle 11 miles, run 2 miles.  A triathlon without the swim (too bad, cause the swim is my best event — but that makes little difference, since the swim in tri’s is so small a percentage of the race that a competitor could win the swim and still end of in the back of the pack after the bike and run).

There will probably be a tri or a multi-sport race of some kind this Fall, but after that triathlon season doesn’t really start up until May — when the Beaches Fine Arts Series triathlons have races in May, June, and July.  I’ve done these before: quarter-mile ocean swim at Ponte Vedra Beach, 11 mile cycle on Atlantic Ave., then a 5k running race.  Pretty course, not too expensive, not too far away from Gainesville.

Back on the subject of volunteer opportunities, maybe I could sign up to drive people to medical appointments.  I’m uniquely qualified for that, especially if we’re talking driving people to the Davis Cancer Center for radiation treatment appointments — I did 7 weeks of radiotherapy there in Fall 2002, after having my brain tumor surgically removed August 9, 2002.  My tumor was an atypical meningioma, about plum sized; this is the kinda tumor you want to have if you must have a tumor, since it’s “well-encapsulated,” meaning it tends to slide right out, whole, without leaving dangerous tendrils behind like a glial tumor, say.  Sen. Ted Kennedy had a glial tumor, and when it was discovered, there was just no hope.

After the radiotherapy, I’ve had 9 MRI’s (3 months, 6 months, then one a year until a few years back, when we went to a 2-year interval).  Most recent one was week before last.  However, unlike the other 8 times I’ve had MRI’s and then a consult with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Robert Amdur, this time he didn’t walk into the room and say, “Your films are clear.”  This time he said there was a white spot on my brain, not in the region of the tumor, and he and the technicians want me to schedule another MRI in 3 months.  So it’s a wait-and-see situation.

Back to the retirement routine story.  Hope to go kayaking somewhere with Rick and Richard on Friday; we’ll see how that turns out.


Daytona Beach Shores

Had a magical trip to Daytona Beach Shores this Labor Day weekend.   We drove over on Saturday, September 1st, and went to our usual place, SeaScape Inn on South Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach Shores (which, if you’re not local to the area, is contiguous to and right south of the more-famous Daytona Beach).   The SeaScape is a little bit older, not a high rise (3 stories), and right on the Atlantic Ocean — you can see the area, ocean and motels\condos, rather generically, below.

Daytona Beachfront Hotels, Beach, Ocean

We arrived to find quite a big crowd there, which we attributed to Labor Day weekend.  However, after we came back from dinner at D. J.’s Deck (more about that later), a woman introduced herself in the parking lot as Judy and offered us dinner from a buffet that was set out.  Turns out that she comes to SeaScape every Labor Day weekend, that the event started with family, expanded to family and friends, and then further expanded to people from her church, family, and friends.

We had to turn down dinner, having just come from D. J.’s Deck (right under the north side of the Port Orange Bridge on the beachside).  D.J.’s is right on a dock, and in the 2 dozen times I’ve gone there, I’ve often seen boats unloading shrimp or other fish right to the restaurant.  So it’s oh-so-fresh fish, well prepared, excellent hush puppies, fries, and cole slaw, out at picnic tables on a deck on the Halifax River (aka The Intracoastal Waterway,  but given various other names in specific locales — e.g., the Indian River in New Smyrna Beach).  I often tell people that D. J.’s is the best restaurant in the Daytona Beach area, but let’s keep it our secret.

Anyway, Judy and her people were excellent fun to watch  and interact with all weekend, and their party never got out of hand, thankfully, so we got plenty of rest.

And needed rest — I went surfing, Pam and I both went bodysurfing (I even wore fins!).  The ocean was 83 degrees, the waves were 3-4 feet, and on Sunday after church we rented a beach umbrella and chair and just watched the waves, the birds, and the world go by without a care in the world.

Ran 5 miles this morning (Monday, Labor Day), half on the beach and half down by the river (the peninsula is narrow enough in Daytona Beach Shores to easily walk or run from ocean to river and back).

Oh, yeah, I began with the words “magical trip” — well, everything just fell together perfectly.  It was fun being around Judy’s crew, it was fun surfing and bodysurfing, we enjoyed driving around looking at houses, the weather was beautiful, and we ate dinner twice at D.J.’s deck. And, oh yes, church service Sunday morning at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Orange Ave. was most excellent, as well.